Core Insights Podcast Series: Behavioural Science
07 December 2020
Nick Chater on why searching for your true 'self' is pointless
We assume that below a mental 'surface' of conscious awareness lies a deep and complex set of inner beliefs, values and desires that govern our thoughts, ideas and actions, and that to know this depth is to know ourselves.
But Nick Chater, Professor of Behavioural Science at Warwick Business School, reveals to Core Insights host Trevor Barnes how this is in fact all an illusion.
The pair discuss the latest research in psychology and neuroscience detailed in Professor Chater's book The Mind is Flat, where Professor Chater argues that rather than being the plaything of unconscious currents, the brain generates behaviours in the moment based entirely on our past experiences and environment.
The brain, Professor Chater contends, is a ceaseless and creative improviser. Read an extract from the book at here.
How to become more patient and choose the long-term benefit
Core Insights host Trevor Barnes talks to Daniel Read, Professor of Behavioural Science, about his research into intertemporal choices, which looks at why, even though we are on a diet, we choose to eat a cream bun now, rather than wait for our lunchtime salad. Or why in repeated experiments people would prefer £10 now rather than £15 in two weeks.
These are intertemporal trade-offs and despite economics teaching us we should weigh up the options, calculating the benefits between the two points in time and choosing the most beneficial, we don’t always do this in a way that is best for us, or for society. You can see it playing out at every climate change conference, where hard choices to curb emissions are put off for another day.
Professor Read also reveals research on a way to make us more patient and take the better, but further away, option - by simply adding a zero. Read more on this here.
Anchoring - the nudge plunging us all into debt
Trevor Barnes, host of Core Insights, interviews Neil Stewart, Professor of Behavioural Science, about a nudge - or sludge - that he discovered on his credit card statement.
Anchoring is a well-established nudge with plenty of research confirming its existence. Here, Professor Stewart explains how it is affecting our credit card bill thanks to the minimum payment. For more on this, read Professor Stewart's article here.
Does giving workers a pay rise lead to greater productivity?
Andrea Isoni, Professor of Behavioural Science, joins Core Insights host Trevor Barnes to discuss the conundrum of pay rises.
Professor Isoni has used game theory to examine how pay rises are actually reciprocated by employees. For many bosses giving workers a pay rise is seen as an act of kindness that they expect to be reciprocated by more effort.
But Professor Isoni details the scenarios that show this is rarely the case. Read more on it all here.
How business strategists can take advantage of our bias of ignoring luck
Chengwei Liu, Associate Professor of Strategy and Behavioural Science, talks about his research into luck with Core Insights host Trevor Barnes.
Dr Liu reveals the situations and reasons why we have a bias towards luck, underestimating our good luck and overestimating bad luck. This bias can be exploited by firms alive to the opportunities that luck brings. Read more about it here.
Nick Chater on why autonomous vehicles will need their own roads
Self-driving cars have been promised as the future for the last decade with various manufacturers experimenting with their own designs alongside tech giants Google, Uber and Apple.
Nick Chater, Professor of Behavioural Science, has been trying to model the trickiest task for autonomous vehicles of navigating the cluttered and narrow roads of the UK's towns and cities.
But he admits to Core Insights host Trevor Barnes that it is an impossible task and he now believes self-driving vehicles will need their own roads rather than mixing with human controlled cars. Read more on the problems for autonomous vehicles here.
How our digital traces can be used as a real-time measure of an economy
Tobias Preis and Suzy Moat are Co-Directors of the Data Science Lab, which examines how Big Data can offer insights into human behaviour and decision making.
Here, the pair, who are also Fellows at the Alan Turing Institute, talk to Core Insights host Trevor Barnes about how they have used aircraft flight data to produce real-time indicators of a nation's economic activity.
Such data can give economists and central banks quicker and more up-to-date information on how an economy is doing. Read more on this here.
The impact of Brexit on the UK's mental health
Nick Powdthavee reveals the results of his nationwide research into the effect of Brexit on the population's mental wellbeing.
The vote split the nation and for those who voted remain Professor Powdthavee has found evidence that the distress and anguish was still affecting them a year later.
Core Insights host Trevor Barnes goes through the research with Professor Powdthavee to reveal even more on the type of people who voted leave and those who went for remain. Read more on it here.
How neuroscience can now predict our decisions
Core Insights host Trevor Barnes talks to Nick Lee, Professor of Marketing, whose research using neuroscience and chaos theory has found a way of predicting our decisions before we have even made them.
Professor Lee reveals how brain scans can determine the state of our mind and so work out what we will decide. He reveals the implications and future possibilities in the field of neuroscience.
How AI can help us build more scenic towns and cities
Chanuki Seresinhe has been training AI to recognise beautiful scenery and now believes it can be used to help design towns and cities that can improve our mental wellbeing.
Dr Seresinhe tells Core Insights host Trevor Barnes how she has used AI to quantify beauty and make the link between beautiful scenery and our mental wellbeing.
And she found beautiful scenery does not always mean greenery, but found evidence for bridges and buildings boosting our happiness, which through her research AI can now recognise. Read more on it here and here.
How do Governments balance saving lives with impacting the economy?
Core Insights host Trevor Barnes talks to Graham Loomes, Professor of Behavioural Science, about his research on the trade-offs involved in implementing costly health polices like those used during the pandemic.
How does a Government decide how far to go with restrictions that will have a severe impact on the economy but stop many people from being infected and dying from COVID-19?
Professor Loomes details the trade-offs involved and how such calculations are formulated. Read more on it here.
How behavioural science nudges can improve our health
In the final episode of our first Behavioural Science series, Core Insights host Trevor Barnes talks to Ivo Vlaev, Professor of Behavioural Science, about his work in the health sector.
Professor Vlaev has put together a series of randomised controlled trials testing various nudges on patients. The nudges have helped people adopt healthier diets, cut down on drinking alcohol, lowered the number of patients missing hospital appointments and much more.
Professor Vlaev explains how the nudges work and how they could save the NHS valuable time and resources, often by simply changing the wording of a letter or text. Read more about it here.
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